Thursday, February 26, 2009


Every two years Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, puts on a great little conference/party called The Festival of Faith and Music. It's three days of hanging out with people who are serious about their faith and who love music, and the intersection of those two consuming passions. This year we'll get to hear The Hold Steady, Lupe Fiasco, Over the Rhine, Vic Chesnutt, Julie Lee, Baby Dee, Kenneth Thomas, and David Bazan (Pedro the Lion). And those are just the musicians. The speakers/presenters are equally impressive. You should check it out.

As we did two years ago, Michael Kaufmann (director of Asthmatic Kitty Records) and I are currently listening to a batch of new songs recorded by various performers/bands who are trying to win a contest called Bandspotting. The winner gets to perform at the conference. The good news: the music is, almost uniformly, amazing. The bad news: we have to pick a winner. This is, in all honesty, far more difficult than writing a feature article or an album review. There's great indie rock here. There's outstanding chamber folk. There's superb singer/songwriter fare. There's a guy who howls the Psalms to an unholy racket, and I mean that in the best possible sense since it seems unlikely to me that the guy who wrote these sacred blues laments was doing so to the accompaniment of saccharine pop music. I know it's a cliche to state that everyone's a winner. In this case, it happens to be true. It is such a heartening experience. And damn difficult, too.


Anonymous said...

Sounds fantastic. We won't be able to make it up there this year like I had hoped, but I will be following everything I can online again.
How much time do you have to choose?

Unknown said...

Any change you'll post the names of those bands that don't make it, just so that we're able to enjoy them if we're unable to make it to the conference?

Andy Whitman said...

Winston, sure, I'll be happy to write about some of these bands/performers. I need to hold off a bit until after the conference, but I'd love to do so once the winner has been named.

Andy Whitman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma said...

Hey Winston ... you can listen to the bandspotting music on the Festival web site. There's a lot of great stuff this year!

toddberger said...

I was one of the submissions for the Bandspotting contest. Can you give me any reviews/feedback on my submissions?

Todd Berger